There are many mysteries surrounding the death of Czar Alexander I. After Russia’s triumph over France Alexander I became an iconic figure among the Russian masses, he was among the top influential celebrities in Europe. But ten years on the fame had faded and there were many issues disturbing the Czar. Alexander I had so long been a people’s favourite and now he had fallen from his position of fame, this broke his heart. Alexander repeatedly confided in his family members that he would like to retire to seclusion in the midst of nature leaving all the stately affairs. He became very religious and spent many hours each day interacting with priests, hermits and fortune tellers. According to the official biographer of Alexander I, the emperor had decided to retire from stately affairs in 1825. He had even crafted a secret and elaborate escape plan, but no one knew about it. Later developments suggest that his plan worked, if there is any truth in the legends that surround the death of Alexander I.
There were many coincidences to his escape plan in the last few days of his life. In the summer of 1825 Empress Elizabeth, Alexander’s wife fell gravely ill. Alexander advised her to move away from the busy life of St. Petersburg and move to the small city of Taganrog on the Sea of Azov. He felt the southern climate will do a world of good for Elizabeth’s health. In early September Alexander himself left for Taganrog to have everything ready before his wife arrived. He left in secrecy taking only a handful of servants and close rather than his full escort. Soon Empress followed him in Taganrog. Her health improved significantly in the following weeks.
There was a shocking list of events to follow next. News arrived to St. Petersburg that the emperor was sick with severe cold. His health condition deteriorated fast and doctors were helpless. On November 1, 1825, 14th Russian emperor Czar Alexander I died at the age of 48. His body was brought to St. Petersburg and buried in the Peter and Paul Fortress with all imperial honours.
This was the official version of Alexander I’s death but there was a different version reported by some eye witnesses which made his death very mysterious. One of the soldiers on guard is reported to have seen a tall man slip out of the house by the backdoor night and walked into the dark before Alexander died. The soldier had identified this person as Czar, but when he told the same story to superior officers they blew his story away saying the Emperor was lying in his death bed. Rumour spread that someone closely resembling the Emperor was being buried and the Alexander himself had vanished (much like he intended). The mystery was given more air when the lids of the coffin bearing Alexander I’s body remained close all through the funeral and burial ceremony, which made people believe there was no body within the coffin at all.
If Alexander I did not die where could he have gone? A few years later there was reports about a mysterious hermit named Fyodor Kuzmich who was well known in Siberia. He was tall, stately with blue eyes and a handsome face. His knowledge about nuances of court life amazed many. Many former soldiers claimed that Fyodor’s face was identical of Alexander I. He was arrested by the Police and interrogated. But later released as there were no criminal charges against him. The hermit Fyodor died at the age of 87 in 1864. He travelled all through Siberia.
There are strong possibilities that Faydor was the real Czar Alexander I. What Alexander wanted he got it with the disguise of a hermit. For 40 years of his life he was able to spend time in solitude in the pristine lap of nature.